Sunday, 5th November, 2000: In which Cathy begins her dissolution process, I meet with Fr Fisher, and I'm bailed up by a Parishioner

During the week, Cathy rang the Tribunal to make time for an interview to begin proceedings for a dissolution of her previous marriage. She has an appointment for the 15th, and will go without me. She has to produce three character references for herself, and I have to do the same. I am asking Fr Denis, Fr Anthony, and my spiritual director. She is asking her pastor from St Paul's, and [two other friends]. The last two know already what I am doing, but this was the first time Cathy's pastor will have had his suspicions confirmed. When Cathy talked to him on Friday, he did not make any comment.

I had a meeting with Fr Anthony on Thursday, the last meeting for about a month, as he left for Guam on Saturday. We talked about Cathy’s dissolution application. I asked him for a character reference. He was more than happy to do this. He was also going to contact the tribunal just to “oil the wheels” a little by letting them know my situation. I also asked if he had taken my conversion up with anyone in authority in the Church. He said that the Vicar General [Denis Hart] knows, and that he was going to have an interview with the Archbishop [George Pell] on Thursday night. One of the topics on the agenda of his meeting was “the Lutherans”. He said that George probably didn’t know yet what this was about, but he would afterwards. He asked me what I wanted him to tell George--for instance, he was going to raise the question of my financial needs following my reception into the Church. He asked if I wanted him to raise the issue of priesthood. I told him to say that I was concerned 1) for financial security for my family, 2) that I should be able to serve the Church in some capacity, and 3) that I would leave it to George’s discretion as to whether this would be as a layman, deacon or priest. Anthony agreed that he thought this would be the best approach. Peter Holmes also met with Anthony later that afternoon, and he was also going to include Peter in his chat with George. I received a phone message on Friday to contact Anthony on his mobile to find out what transpired, but I couldn’t get onto him, and by Saturday morning, he had already left. Can I stand the suspense for a month???

I think Peter has moved a long way in recent weeks. He is on his way in, I reckon. He will probably get there before me. We talked together on the phone on Friday about P. It is SP’s suspicion that P. has never faced the question with true personal “angst” but that the issue if for him mainly an intellectual one. I put this to P. when he, his wife and son came around for tea last night. He said that he agrees, although he can see it becoming more of a personal issue soon.

Today was not the easiest of days on the parish circuit. At Casey, one of my parishioners bailed me up for being “too Catholic”. She believes that being Protestant is essential, and furthermore that being Lutheran means not being catholic. I said that I cannot hold this position. She asked me whether I thought the Lutheran and Catholic churches should reunite, and I said “yes, this is what I am working for”. To which she said “Not in your lifetime”. She is probably right. She was concerned that my “being catholic” was actually off-putting for those who wanted a “Lutheran” service. It did not help for me to try to tell her that I was not an isolated case in the Lutheran Church and that there were many others who held the same understanding of the Lutheran Church as "evangelical catholic". I felt more than a little rattled by this.

I ended up sending her and all Casey people a copy of my Reformation Sunday sermon, which was only preached at Knox and Frankston. I believe in this sermon I addressed the issues openly and honestly. I have had only positive feedback so far on this, although I know that this sermon is “doing the rounds” at the moment in printed form, and there will probably be some backlash before long.

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